Nelson Mandela once said, “water is democracy”, and his strong, crystal clear voice rings out in our consciences – at just over five years since he passed away – reminding us of how water is “a basic human right, because, no water, no future. Access to water is a common goal. It is central in the social, economic and political affairs of the country, continent and the world”.
Yet the reality that we must contend with is that a billion people suffer from thirst, entire nations spend many hours, every day, just getting to water and often risk their health, if not their very lives, as the water is contaminated.
Even the most visionary utopia can become genuine hope, as long as each of us feels personally mobilized, part of the cause and jointly responsible for the good and the bad of the problem: water is a basic human right. It is the most important synonym of life. Once again this year, “World Water Day” is relaunching its challenge, on March 22, setting the goal of access to water for all (which is one of the key objectives – “goal 6” of the 2030 Agenda adopted by the UN in 2015).
To achieve this, a new level of global awareness is crucial in order to set in motion a new approach, in terms of attitudes, priorities, politics and practice.
The 2019 edition of World Water Day highlights a crucial theme that is summed up in its slogan “Leaving no one behind”. It aims to emphasize the reasons why there are people who have been left behind, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, South-East Asia and Latin America, and how access to water and sanitation and the sustainable management of water resources can be the driving factors and bring about a real U-turn.
The slogan brings to mind a passage taken from the UN Resolution of the Global Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda): “As we embark on this great collective journey, we pledge that no one will be left behind. Recognizing that the dignity of the human person is fundamental, we wish to see the Goals and targets met for all nations and peoples and for all segments of society. And we will endeavor to reach the furthest behind first”.
Shortly after it was founded, in 2013, ABF also embarked on a project completely dedicated to water accessibility in Haiti. Called “Water Truck”, ever since then it has been freely distributing water with two tankers filled with clean water, three times a day, six days a week, in the slum of Cité Soleil, the biggest shantytown in Port au Prince. This is how access to clean water is guaranteed every day to 400,000 people, thereby offering the local community several tens of millions of liters of water every year, within a country at high risk of epidemics, given the lack of basic sanitation, stemming, first and foremost, from the non-existent sewer system.
The very real benefits of this activity expand exponentially, bringing about a substantial improvement in the hygienic and sanitary conditions of the communities involved, an equally significant limitation of the transmission and spread of infections, and a drastic reduction in the risk of death from dehydration in children and the elderly.
The “Water Truck” project covers a range of needs, not only quenching thirst but also significantly contributing to the quality of everyday life, tout court.
In partnership with the schools built together with our local partner, Fondation Saint Luc, water towers have been built, as well as water access points at the educational facilities which ABF is involved in, with facets for the students and teaching staff to use, and water access points have also been built on the outer walls of the schools and thus are available to the entire community.
In order to truly make the act of celebrating and honoring a special occasion fruitful, it is up to each one of us to fill it with meaning, values and tangible gestures. This is true for every celebration and anniversary. It is also true for World Water Day which, since 1992, has offered the opportunity to take stock of what has been achieved and what still needs to be done, in the desire to see that water is never wasted, adulterated or stolen ever again.
“To deny access to water”, says Pope Francis, “means to deny access to dignity and life”. However, comforting news and reasons to be cautiously optimistic are not lacking either. Yet it is crucial that every person with goodwill in their hearts does their part. Everyone can do something personally, also by supporting ABF’s targeted projects, so that water (which, as our founder reminds us, “has moved and nourished and connected millions of people, since the birth of the human civilization”) truly becomes a common good and no one is left behind.